Top tight ends on the Florida schedule

The Gators will face two difficult matchups with opposing tight ends this season. After those, it's tough to figure out who the best tight ends on the Florida schedule are. However, the two have the potential to dominate a game and carry an offense.

5. Vanderbilt tight end Steven Scheu: This selection isn't as much about the player as it is the team. Scheu started seven games and played in 12 last season for the Commodores, totaling 123 yards and one touchdown. Even thought the Florida schedule doesn't include many high profile tight ends this season, those numbers still shouldn't be enough to get someone on this list.

Scheu is on this list because of Vanderbilt's new head coach. Derek Mason left his job as Stanford's defensive coordinator to take the head coach position for the Commodores, and he's trying to replicate his old team's success in Nashville. Stanford's offense has always leaned heavily on its tight ends, and if that translates to Vanderbilt, Scheu should have a bigger season this fall.

4. South Carolina tight end Rory Anderson: The tight end position hasn't been much of a priority in recent years in Columbia. That could change this year as Dylan Thompson heads into his first year as the starting quarterback. He'll need a safety blanket in the South Carolina offense, and Anderson has the potential to serve in that role.

He ended last season with just 235 yards and zero touchdowns, but with leading receiver Bruce Ellington heading to the NFL, there are over 700 yards that could go elsewhere. With a first-year starter at quarterback, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Anderson take some of them.

3. Georgia tight end Jay Rome: This one is based on potential. Arthur Lynch had a big season last year as a tight end, ending his final season with the Bulldogs after 459 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Rome, the 6-6, 254-pound tight end, now takes over as the starter during his junior season.

Based only on past production, Rome hasn't earned this spot. However, his athleticism could turn him into a matchup nightmare this season. He had just nine catches for 99 yards last season while Lynch caught most of the passes from the tight end spot, but with a first-year starter at quarterback, the tight end position could be an important part of what Georgia does in 2014.

2. Alabama tight end O.J. Howard: After posting 269 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman tight end in the SEC, expectations for Howard continue to grow. He provided the immediate production that Rome was supposed to bring in the early years of his time at Georgia. Howard was a five-star prospect out of high school and lived up to the hype. He has the size to dominate smaller safeties that try to cover him, and when the opposition goes to a linebacker on Howard, he can run right by them.

This logic has also helped push Anderson and Rome onto this list, but Alabama is another team breaking in a first-year starting quarterback. The biggest jump a player usually makes is from his freshman to sophomore season, and if that holds true with Howard, he will be one of the favorite targets of whoever wins the Alabama quarterback job.

1. Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary: This is the perfect combination to be at the top of this list. O'Leary had a big year in 2013, totaling 557 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The Seminoles lost multiple receivers from last year's team, and even while bringing back leading receiver Rashad Greene, O'Leary could see an uptick in receptions and yards this season.

On a list full of tight ends catching passes from first-year starting quarterbacks, O'Leary catching balls from the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. That's what ultimately puts him at the top of this list. He's a throwback player that doesn't wear gloves and still produces, but he's also Florida's toughest tight end matchup this season.

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